Lettuce-Wrapped Moroccan Meatballs with Tomato Salad and Yogurt
It’s an appetizer or a fun to eat main course I made at a Viking Cooking School class. I baked them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then lightly sautéed them in a little XVOO for a few more minutes. Use most any type ground meat.
Serves 6 to 8; Prep time 20 – 30 minutes; Cook time 20 minutes
Tomato salad ingredients:
4 medium size ripe tomatoes; peeled, seeded and chopped; Here’s how, score the top of the tomato at stem with an X for later peeling. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds, immediately place in bath of ice water. Remove and peel from the top. Seed them and chop. Short-cut by using a can of diced tomatoes, though isn’t quite as good as fresh.
4 green onions, green tops only, very thinly sliced (subst. fine dice red onion)
3 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint (subst. fresh cilantro)
1 tsp granulated sugar, or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl; allow the flavors to blend at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
about 6 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, finely diced
1 TBS Ras el Hanout spice blend; OR a combination of the following 10 spices: ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp ground pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp cardamom, 1/8 tsp clove, 1/8 cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 TBS chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 large egg, beaten
1 lb. ground chuck, or ground lamb, or ground turkey
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 – 3 heads Bibb or Boston lettuce for wrap, separated into cups (substi. warmed sm. pita cut in half, pockets opened)
1 cup plain yogurt
Sauté onion by placing a small sauté pan over medium heat; add 2 TBS of oil and heat through. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes; transfer the onions to a plate to cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the spices, salt, crushed red pepper flakes. Add parsley, cilantro, lemon juice and egg and combine. Add uncooked ground meat, cooled onions, and breadcrumbs; mix gently by hand until just combined. (Note: Do not over-mix or the meatballs will be tough.)
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture; roll between your palms to form a nice round ball; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Note: You may need to lightly grease your hands or dampen with water to prevent the meatballs from sticking during the rolling process. Shape balls until all of the meat mixture has been used.
Choose your method for cooking:
Sauté: Heat a large saute pan over med-high heat; add 3 TBS oil and heat through. Carefully add the meatballs to the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the meatballs until they are brown on all sides, 8-10 minutes; shake the pan occasionally to promote even browning. Carefully transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.
Oven Bake: Place pan of meatballs in the oven at 400 degrees F. Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, depending on the size.
Construct lettuce-wrap: Place the lettuce cups (or warmed pita halves), tomato salad and yogurt out to assemble. Instruct your dinner guests to place one or two meatballs in a lettuce cup, and then top with a big scoop of tomato salad and a dollop of yogurt.
For truly authentic Moroccan flavor, use Moroccan olive oil; it can be found in your local ethnic market or online at www.zamourispices.com. Spanish olive oil is an acceptable substitute.
The spice Ras el hanout may be found in your local Middle Eastern market or online at www.zamourispices.com. There are many variations of this Moroccan spice blend. You can make your own blend which typically includes the spices cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn, and turmeric.
To read about Ras el hanout: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ras_el_hanout